Fire Destroys Brigham Young Academy Building
William and Warren Dusenberry operated the Timpanogos Branch of the University of Deseret in Lewis Hall, a two-story brick building on the northeast corner of the intersection of 300 West Center. From 1870 to 1875, the school succeeded educationally, but it failed financially.
Brigham Young, who owned Lewis Hall, transferred the deed to the building to a board of trustees in 1875 and instructed them to create a new school named Brigham Young Academy. The board complied and elected Warren Dusenberry as the new school’s principal.
Karl G. Maeser replaced Dusenberry the next year, and the teachers of the academy incorporated religion into their courses. Enrollment grew and workmen expanded the building in 1882 and 1883.
Then on the night of January 27, 1884, tragedy envoloped Lewis Hall. Two men walking past the building about 11:00 p.m. noticed a glow of flames inside. They broke into the building and dragged the school’s pump organ out of harm’s way. Other men sounded the alarm by ringing the meetinghouse bell or by running through the streets yelling, “Fire! It’s the B.Y. Academy!”
A large crowd gathered around the academy and carried out some of its contents. Since Provo had no fire department, members of the throng formed a bucket brigade from the millrace a block to the east. The efforts of the brigade were futile, and the fore consumed the uninsured building.
Local officials announced a public meeting to be held the next day in Provo’s partially finished tabernacle. President Smoot announced that the new term would start the next day as scheduled. Students met in the basement of the Provo Meetinghouse and in various business buildings. Te school’s board of trustees chose a new site for the academy and build a large school building on what is now Academy Square. It has served many years as Provo’s library.